Mahakala

Name: Mahakala ‭(‬Named after one of the eight protector deities in Tibetan Buddhism‭)‬.
Phonetic: Mah-ha-kah-la.
Named By: Alan H.‭ ‬Turner,‭ ‬Diego Pol,‭ ‬Julia A.‭ ‬Clarke,‭ ‬Gregory M.‭ ‬Erickson‭ & ‬Mark Norell‭ ‬-‭ ‬2007.
Classification: Chordata,‭ ‬Reptilia,‭ ‬Dinosauria,‭ ‬Saurischia,‭ ‬Theropoda,‭ ‬Deinonychosauria,‭ ‬Dromaeosauridae.
Species: M.‭ ‬omnogovae‭ (‬type‭)‬.
Diet: Carnivore.
Size: Estimated about‭ ‬70‭ ‬centimetres long.
Known locations: Mongolia‭ ‬-‭ ‬Djadokhta Formation.
Time period: Campanian of the Cretaceous.
Fossil representation: Partial skeleton and partial skull bones.

       Named in‭ ‬2007,‭ ‬Mahakala has been widely accepted as one of the‭ ‬most‭ ‬primitive formed dromaeosaurids so far discovered.‭ ‬Key to this idea is the observation that the third metatarsal is not compressed,‭ ‬whereas in more advanced dromaeosaurids and troodonts it is.‭ ‬However another fact to consider is that Mahakala lived during the Campanian of the Cretaceous,‭ ‬a time when dromaeosaurids had long been established.‭ ‬This means that Mahakala was a late surviving form that co-existed with the development of more advanced forms,‭ ‬perhaps specialising as a niche predator.‭ ‬This also does not disprove evolutionary theory,‭ ‬as it should be remembered that evolutionary processes only drive animals to change when there is a need too.‭ ‬When there is no need,‭ ‬an animal’s evolution can slow down and even stop.
       Currently Mahakala is best known from the hind limbs and anterior half of the tail,‭ ‬but forelimb remains are also known and these are interesting as they are proportionally much shorter than the arms of other dromaeosaurids.‭ ‬These shorter limbs may or may not be another primitive feature,‭ ‬they may have been an adaptation unique to the genus.‭ ‬As mentioned above the small size of Mahakala probably meant that it was a specialised hunter of small animals such as lizards and primitive mammals like Zalambdalestes,‭ ‬perhaps even larger insects.‭ ‬This meant that Mahakala did not directly compete with its larger relatives such as the dromaeosaurs Tsaagan and the famous Velociraptor.

Further reading
-‭ ‬A basal dromaeosaurid and size evolution preceding avian flight.‭ ‬-‭ ‬Science‭ ‬317‭ (‬5843‭)‬:‭ ‬1378‭–‬1381.‭ ‬-‭ ‬Alan H.‭ ‬Turner,‭ ‬Diego Pol,‭ ‬Julia A.‭ ‬Clarke,‭ ‬Gregory M.‭ ‬Erickson‭ & ‬Mark Norell‭ ‬-‭ ‬2007.



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